Runaway locomotive that cut three-foot-deep grooves in the Southeast Freeway in 1969 still stands, now pulling commuter rail cars in New Jersey

On August 21, 1969, three locomotives being prepared to haul freight in Albany, New York, escaped from what is now the Cabot Yard in South Boston and drove straight into the freeway from the southeast, digging deep grooves in the roadway before stopping and blocking northbound traffic.

Michael William Sullivan reports that the lead locomotive, a General Motors in the runaway express, remains on track and hard at work, now in New Jersey.

Now: Same engine with new paint and number heading west to Rutherford, NJ. (photo by Michael William Sullivan):

Sullivan, who works at New Jersey Transit’s Hoboken Terminal, says what was then Penn Central’s 3182 engine is now NJ Transit’s 4210 engine.

He says NJ Transit picked up the engine in 1994, after it was converted for passenger service, stopped in Hoboken this morning and will likely run for another 10 years.

“Sure, they are old and tired, but they are the easiest to fix and get back into service,” he writes.

He adds a history of the transformation of the locomotive from Penn Central 3182 to NJ Transit 4210:

It was built as PC GP40 3182 for the Penn Central in October 1968 at the EMD plant in LaGrange, IL with serial number 34624. This means it was still a bit fresh when it started. fled.

It was inherited by Conrail on 1 April 1976 where it became CR 3182. Conrail retired it in the mid-1980s as part of a massive purge of older locomotives. It sat on mothballs for a long time in Altoona, Pennsylvania, while they figured out what to do with all those engines.

In the early 1990s, NJ Transit needed a lot of new locomotives as part of a major modernization project that was well underway. Conrail had already rebuilt a handful of older GP40Ps that NJ Transit had inherited from New Jersey’s Central Railroad into GP40PH-2s and they wanted more like them.

Conrail offered to rebuild a batch of their retired GP40s for NJ Transit, they ended up ordering 19. 3182 happened to be part of that batch of rebuilds.

3182 was extensively rebuilt at Conrail’s Juniata Locomotive Shops in Altoona, Pennsylvania, where its frame was lengthened and a HEP (Head End Power) secondary engine installed that would provide passenger car power for lights, the HVAC and everything the cars needed. It arrived at NJ Transit in May 1994 as NJTR GP40PH-2B 4210 and is still in service to this day with no final retirement date in sight.

GP40PH-2B? Williams writes:

GP = general purpose
40 = EMD 40 class locomotives
P = Passenger
H = HEP (head feed) equipped
-2 = EMD Solid State Electronics -2
B = Third order of GP40PH-2 for NJ Transit

Top photo from BPL’s Brearley collection.

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